I tucked some of her tumbled hair behind her ear. “I had to stay until you woke because I needed to ask if I can see you again.”

Her mouth dropped open, and emotions flickered on her face too fast to read. “I would love to see you again.” Her expression settled between wary and hopeful. “I might go broke, but it would be worth it.”

“Lucky for you, as of this morning, I’m a cheap date.” She frowned in confusion, and I suddenly felt tentative as I explained, “As of this morning, I am one-hundred-percent engineer and zero percent escort. Last night was my last job.”

She considered that long enough for me to worry, tapping her chin. “How cheap?”

“What?” I frowned. Had I misread the whole night?

But a grin seemed to tug at her lips. “Because we’re both new graduates, Antony. And I just made an extravagant purchase from my savings account. I need to watch my wallet now.”

No way was I taking money for last night. I’d make sure Sin City didn’t charge her. I dropped a kiss on her nose. “You’re not paying for last night. I’ll cover you. And tonight, I’d like to take you out.” I pulled back to look at her, to watch her face transform from playful to vulnerable.

“You meant all that? About this not being a job?”

“Couldn’t you tell? From the way we were together?”

She swallowed, then answered, “I know you said it. And I could tell what I wanted. But I didn’t want to presume anything.”

I ran a hand down her bare skin, savoring the feel of her soft, sexy body. “Then let me make it abundantly clear. I want you. I want to date you. I want to see you. I want to be the aerospace engineer to your environmental scientist.” I took a beat, nerves thrumming through me. “That is, if you think you could let a former escort into your heart?”

Her smile widened like the sky. “You’re already there.”

“Good. That’s where I’d like to stay.”

And as I kissed her deeply, tasting my sweet Sidney, I felt something for the first time.

The sense that she was mine, and I was hers.

It had happened suddenly.

Or perhaps it had happened during the last year.

I didn’t know, but I wanted it to keep happening again and again with her.



Six months later

Sidney picked out a new pink bra from Ava’s and held it up, waggling it. “What do you think?”

“It’s gorgeous. Do you like it?”

She lowered her eyes, considering the lace. “I think I do. I think my guy might as well.”

“Yes, I think he likes you in anything,” I said with a smile. “Get it. You have an anniversary to celebrate.”

“Nothing quite like six months together,” she said, then trotted to the register, ready to buy.

When Sidney moved to Vegas earlier this year, we’d reconnected in the most random of ways, bumping into each other at a noodle shop. She was there with Antony, and I didn’t want to interrupt, but they’d both called me over.

And Sidney and I had become fast friends. We had a lot in common—we were determined to make it in our careers, and we’d both moved on from the past. Let go of crummy relationships. And embraced our new ones.

She and Antony were ridiculously happy together, and that summed up my life with Jake too.

Business was good, love was good, and all my friendships were fabulous too, with old friends and new ones as well.

Maybe that was another secret of this city—if you let people in, you could truly enjoy everything it had to offer.

That was what I was doing. Living and loving to the fullest.



I adjusted my bow tie, smoothed a hand over my lapel, and grinned at my crew. “Admit it. I’m a handsome devil,” I said to my sister.

Christine scoffed, arching a brow. “A demon maybe. Handsome demon?”

Adam chuckled, clapping my shoulder. “Handsome goblin.”

Finn jumped into the fray. “Handsome hell creature.”

I rolled my eyes. “Keep ’em coming. Nothing can get me down today.”

Today, I was marrying the love of my life, with my sister, my parents, and my best friends by my side. My nephew was here too, and Carson made quite a handsome groomsman.

But once I headed to the front of the ballroom at The Extravagant, joining the justice of the peace, I barely saw them.

As the music played, I only had eyes for my bride.

The woman who’d be playing the role of my wife, my lover, and my best friend forever.

As she walked down the aisle, looking radiant in white, I knew I was the luckiest man in the world.

She was the greatest gift.

And the most decadent one.


Tags: Lauren Blakely The Gift Erotic
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